… but the future of web services _is_ the website!

September 18, 2007

In an interesting post, Karen Coombs shares some of her issues in relating their library web site redevelopment to the need to provide web services to the rest of the university: –

If faculty could do their searches without coming to the library site would they? I think the answer is yes.

Long term I’d like a site which has a series of web services that can be exploited by my developers but also my the university web developers and who knows who else. Focusing on content rather than look and feel will allow us to provide these different types of services. It will also allow different types of users to potentially selectively access content.

I don’t think I’ve read anything like this outside a REST advocacy presentation!

Ultimately, I feel like it is these kinds of services that will make of break a library’s virtual presence not the library website. And with a limited staff, this means I like to choose carefully how much time I have my small staff spend on the tradition site. Otherwise, we could spend all our time caught up in look and not enough time working to make the library meet users where they are and be a seamless part of their work processes.

This doesn’t have to be a choice. Because Karen is concentrating on content, she is in a superb position to deliver the services she describes through the website, using good semantic markup, linked resources and well tempered feeds or sitemaps, using The REST book as a manual. This is an advantage of REST I hadn’t fully grokked; it’s cheaper. If you already have a website and need to provide service to your users, it’s quicker and easier to develop the website further RESTfully than to start an entirely separate service delivery development.

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